At home.

At home. That’s how I feel here in Arequipa. It’s a perfect fit.

I wake up each morning, draw open my curtains, and there’s usually a snow-capped volcano there greeting me, a flurry of doves and pigeons flitting through the air, and the smell of spring on my nose. It fills me with more energy than a cup of coffee ever could (though, my Moka pot is definitely waiting in the wings ready to brew up a cup).

The mornings that I do manage to leave my apartment and walk into the city center are always magical and leave me wondering why I don’t do it every day. Mornings in Arequipa are one of two magic hours (sunset is the other one). The air is clearer than it will be all day. The volcanoes are out and so stunning that they stop you in your tracks. The air is incredibly fresh, spring-like is the best way to describe it. It just makes me so happy to be right here in this moment, living this life in this city.

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My favorite Plaza de Armas. | #Arequipa #Peru

A post shared by Amber Dunlap (@ambergoesnative) on

I’ve never felt this way about a place after so many weeks of being there. It’s always enchanting for a few weeks but then it inevitably wears off as routine kicks in. For some reason, Arequipa has continued to shock and amaze me, and I’m two and half months in! It’s like I’ve met my one true love. If I could, I’d marry this place. It’s somehow making this constant nomad want to stay put for awhile. If only I could.

Another aspect of this love affair that’s still so strange to me is how alone I really am here and yet how happy I am. I know next to no one. It’s a difficult place to meet people and living on my own hasn’t helped nor has my introverted nature. But my daily ventures to new places have kept life interesting and anything but boring.

I do hope to finally make some local connections, and now that I’m really settled, I’m making it a priority. Though, this time to myself in this inspiring place has allowed me to really take a look at my life (mostly career) and where I want to take it. It’s been enriching and eye-opening. I know this is a period of my life that I will look back on and say, “That’s when things really began to shift.”

I thank Arequipa for this. It’s the gift I never saw coming.



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